Author: Frank N. Wilner

Are STB’s Newbies Change Agents?

WATCHING WASHINGTON, APRIL 2019 – Stanley found Livingstone faster than vacancies on the five-member Surface Transportation Board (STB) have been filled, with two remaining more than three years after Congress increased from three the number of Senate-confirmed seats.

At Amtrak, it’s no longer 1950

WATCHING WASHINGTON, MARCH 2019 – Amtrak seemingly operates in the shadow of a Bat Signal over Gotham—that specially modified searchlight displaying the emblem of a bat, and intended, when lighted, to summon superhero Batman. Rather than Batman, the Amtrak sentinel, with a passenger train emblem, summons self-appointed management surrogates—hopefully helpful railfans; well-intentioned but cash-strapped lawmakers from federal, state and local government; and, surely, the snoopy press corps.

Beware the operating ratio trap

Watching Washington, February 2019: Sizzle sells product. No wonder the sizzle of ever-lower operating ratios is leading to remarkably higher railroad share prices. But as operating ratios—operating expenses as a percentage of operating revenue—flirt with a sub-60%, the meaning for the longer term is unclear.

NMB eyes easier union “ouster” procedure

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued Jan. 31, the Republican majority on the National Mediation Board seeks to create a “straightforward election process” to decertify union representation on airlines and railroads whose labor relations are governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA).

STB waiting too long for Godot

Watching Washington, January 2019: Prominently on Harry Truman’s Oval Office desk was a sign, “The buck stops here.” Newly confirmed members of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) may wish to reflect on that acknowledgment of accountability as they wade through a troubling backlog of unfinished rulemakings—some disregarded for years.